Fresno Guild reaches tentative agreement on virtual consolidation, merit raises, leave policy

Bargaining bulletin #2
Today, Guild representatives and the company came to a tentative agreement regarding the virtual copy desk consolidation, a 2% merit pool for all employees and a change regarding leaves of absence. The agreement needs Guild members’ approval in a vote by that will be scheduled a few weeks from now.

Pending approval, the agreement says that the Fresno Bee copy desk will be “virtually consolidated” with the Sacramento Editorial Production unit. Fresno copy editors will keep their jobs in Fresno but officially report to and become part of the Sacramento desk. As a union, they will leave the Fresno Bee Guild unit and become part of the unit that covers the Sac copy desk. The virtual consolidation means the change won’t trigger layoffs, severance, etc. Fresno Bee copy desk folks will retain their seniority for vacation, severance and other purposes and be dovetailed into the Sacramento group.

The company has said it expects the consolidation to happen in mid summer, but did not give specifics. The Guild repeatedly pressed company representatives for more information about how copy editors’ jobs will change, including what their new job titles will be, pay rates, and what days and hours they will work. With the 2020 plan still in the works, the company was not able to give us many answers. However, each employee will be given 30 days notice of the change, including their new job description, pay, etc. There is an appeals process if you disagree with how you’ve been placed. There will be no pay cuts because of this change and some employees may see an increase. HR head Linda Brooks said the Modesto consolidation was done in phases and implied that would happen here too.

Copy deskers, this is the agreement you will be folded into: It’s mostly the same, but there are some differences (check out the wellness days provision for people who don’t use their sick days, for example). You can also see the pay rates for job classifications there.

Sarah Nettels will be the lead Guild person on the Fresno desk. She’ll be circulating a document with your start dates and how you rank seniority-wise with other people. Please make sure it’s accurate. She will also going up to Sacramento on March 25 to talk to your counterparts there and relay your questions. She’s your new go-to person for Guild matters.

If we don’t approve the agreement or if the virtual consolidation doesn’t work out, the company retains the right to physically relocate the desk to Sacramento.

In other matters, we also reached an agreement on a 2% merit pool, retroactive to Jan. 1.  That means merit-based raises will once again be happening based on upon the 2% formula (which is in turn based upon your review rating and how long you’ve been here). This, of course, is pending approval of the agreement.

We also agreed to remove a line from the Guild contract that said that if employees take a leave of absence, their reviews will be bumped out by however many weeks they were gone. We will now go by the language in the employee handbook, which gives a 12-week grace period before the review date is moved. (In effect, this does not financially punish employees who take maternity or other leaves. If a person takes a 12 week or shorter leave, the review date stays the same. If they take a 13-week leave, their review date will be pushed out by one week, etc.)

Also, new copies of the contracts are in. We’re trying to make sure everyone gets one, but if we miss you, holler at Bethany and she’ll get you one.

Representing the Guild at the bargaining table were Carl Hall and Kat Anderson from the Pacific Media Workers Guild, Sarah Nettels and Bethany Clough from the Fresno Bee.

Representing the company were Sacramento HR head Linda Brooks, Sacramento editorial production day manager Rita Blomster, McClatchy attorney Aaron Agenbroad, Fresno HR head Mark Ochinero and assistant managing editor John Rich.

If you have any questions, see Sarah or Bethany.

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Michael Applegate

Pacific Media Workers Executive Officer

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